ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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B D Sharma: A Salute

The Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) mourns the death of Brahm Dev Sharma, one among the rare breed of civil servants who, in service as well as after retirement, continued to stand by the marginalised and the oppressed. Throughout his life, he championed the rights of Adivasis tirelessly. From the time when he was the district collector of undivided Bastar (1969–1971), he blocked the expansion of the Bailadila Mines heeding the appeal of the Adivasis that iron ore mining was ruining their lives and destroying their habitat. He refused to back down even when he was humiliated and physically assaulted by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad in Jagdalpur. As chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (1986–1991) he brought into the national spotlight the issue of forest ­management, rights of Adivasis over forest produce, payment of wages for forest produce, etc.

After retiring from that post, Sharma returned to Bastar to live and work among the Adivasis. He spearheaded a campaign in 1992 against an iron and steel plant ­being set up by S M Dyechem in the Tongpal block of Bastar. His self-effacing personality and diffidence hid his indomitable commitment. His brush with the establishment, to which he once belonged, and his commitment to the Adivasi cause which led him to acknow­ledge the Maoists as a legitimate political movement, made him stand out as the stoutest defender of Adivasi rights.

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